Granting property property rights in fisheries is assumed to provide incentives for sustainable resource exploitation. These rights might also open other income options for fishers, including some that go beyond the original objectives intended by authorities establishing the right. The opportunity for alternative uses is especially high if the details of these rights are not clearly identified. In Chile, a de novo TURF (Territorial User Rights for Fishery) system, called Management Exploitation Areas for Benthic Resources (Areas de Manejo y Explotacion de Recursos Bentonicos-AMERB) was created to achieve sustainable exploitation of benthic resources. This study compares two small-scale fishing communities in Chile, Guayacan and Huentelauquen, representing two typical contrasting settings, regarding geographical contexts and surroundings, origin, history, location, social embeddedness, main fisheries activities as well as the motivation and the process through which they acquired their AMERB. While in Guayacan the main fishing activity outside the AMERB is the giant squid and finfish fishery, in Huentelauquen the main and traditional activity has been diving for benthic resources. The objectives to acquire their AMERBs were different in both cases. Huentelauquen applied the AMERB for their traditional activity, the fishery of Concholepas concholepas ("loco"), thus in accordance with the official objective of the AMERB. Due to reduced catches of loco, fishers also added the collection of kelps, using their AMERB to control access to the entire coast surrounding their fishing community, beyond the limits of their AMERB. In Guayacan the AMERB, applied for the management of scallops and a species of red algae, began to be used for sea squirt aquaculture. Within the framework of sustainable fisheries implied by the AMERBs, there was in both cases a clear expectation to gain new sources of income. However with time both AMERBs are being used as a tool for territorial exclusion of other fishers beyond the limits of their respective AMERBs. In Huentelauquen fishers mention mostly negative aspects about the performance of their AMERB, given the poor economic results, being unsatisfied with the AMERB system in general, because they feel that the system disrupted their traditional migration along the coast. In Guayacan, fishers mentioned mostly positive aspects for their AMERB, as it was an opportunity to add new activities. Both examples show that rights-based management approaches are very attractive; they could promote new uses or developments, whose sustainability nevertheless needs to be analyzed further. The analyzed case studies show that, contrary to how the system was developed in Chile, a more bottom-up implementation of new management arrangements may make it easier to agree on common objectives, and/or leave more freedom for fishers to adjust and arrange their livelihood. Considering the importance the AMERBs have acquired for fishers, these kinds of systems need flexible regulations in order that fishers can adapt the system to local traditions, uses or needs and also to their learning and adapting capacities.
2013. Vol. 71, 284-295 p.